To catch carp, you will need the best carp fishing reel and ultimately this comes down to two types… The Freespool reel (also known as the Baitrunner) which has a clutch that allows the carp to take line freely (we call this getting a run). The clutch can be adjusted to tighten the line which is ideal for a carp rod pod setup close to snaggy waters. The Big Pit reel is more powerful, can usually hold more line and is therefore typically suited to casting and playing long-distance fish. With a Big Pit, you can also reel the carp in faster compared to a Baitrunner.
Whichever carp reel you decide to use you need to make sure it is suitable for your carp fishing rod. Line capacity, the gear ratio and size are all important specifications to consider when buying a carp reel. Species Hunter has reviewed the best reels for carp fishing from top brands such as Shimano, Okuma, Daiwa and Sonik along with everything else you need to know below:
Shimano Baitrunner XT RB Carp Reel
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The best of the best, this is Shimano’s top-selling Baitrunner. The XT RB offers high performance and unmatched cracking power because of the low ratio of 4.6:1 gear system. There are 6000, 8000 and 10000 models available each with greater line capacity. 5 ball bearings and twin speed oscillation make the reel extra smooth to play. This is the ultimate carp fishing reel with lightweight aluminium shell and twin Dyna balance Aero wrap handles. An extra blue spool is included with each model.
Shimano Baitrunner DL FB Reel
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The Baitrunner DL by Shimano is available in both front drag (FB) and rear drag (RB). The front drag model is available in 2500 or 4000 sizes and the rear drag model is available in 6000 or 10000 sizes. Both the 4000 and the 6000 carp reels are capable of paying heavy fighting carp but if you want to do the extra distance then you will need the 10000. The reel features AR-C line management, 3 stainless steel ball bearings, super stopper II system and a spare spool.
Shimano Baitrunner ST Reel
The new Shimano Baitrunner ST is a huge hit and it is no surprise why. Perfectly suited for carp fishing the ST has many technological advances and cosmetic alterations compared to older models.
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Available in classic black with a stylish silver XT7 spool. The reel features a 4.6:1 retrieve, 5 ball bearings and double handles. There is a 6000 reel size option available or 10000 if you need more power on bigger lakes. Line lay is optimal thanks to computer engineered Varispeed oscillation gear. This carp reel offers smooth playing action and is easy to use and adjust. A great entry-level Baitrunner at a reasonable price.
New Daiwa Black Widow BR Reel
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The new Black Widow BR by Daiwa is built to last and offers incredibly accurate casting abilities and performance. This is a front drag reel ideal for carp fishing and has a Baitrunner situated on the back. Main features include a free spool facility and slow speed oscillation with anti-reverse. Very smooth with 3 ball bearings. There is a 3500a, 4000a, 4500a and 5000a model available depending on prefered reel size.
FOX EOS Baitrunner Reel
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The new EOS Baitrunner by FOX is a popular choice amongst anglers with a 5000, 7000 and 10000 model available. The 5000 and 7000 models have a 5.1 gear ratio and the larger 10000 model has a 5.5:1 gear ratio. What this means in fisherman talk is the 7000 and 10000 are well suited for larger carp and bigger lakes with more cranking power. The reel has a rotor balanced profile and 5 stainless ball bearings so expect effortlessly smooth drag performance from this very popular Baitrunner.
Daiwa Ninja Carp Fishing Reel
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The new budget Daiwa Ninja is Japanese engineering at its best. Front drag reel perfect for carp fishing or any other type of coarse fishing with 4 ball bearings so extra smooth with added air rotator technology. There is an aluminium handle with a comfortable soft-touch handle knob. A spare aluminium spool is included so you can switch the size of the braid to suit your rod and/or lure. The reel is exceptionally strong and will balance well on any carp rod.
Shakespeare Beta Freespool Reel
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There are two reel sizes available. The 40FS model has a 5.0.1 gear ratio with 10lb line capacity and the 60FS model has a 5.2.1 gear ratio with 10lb line capacity. This is a great entry-level spool reel that comes pre-spooled with quality nylon mono 14lb line. There is an adjustable drag on the back making this reel suitable for carp fishing, pike fishing, barbel and tench. Despite the budget price, this cheap reel from Shakespeare can land a 20lb carp without any issues.